ROGERSVILLE — The only thing typical about the Of One Accord ministry’s 2020 Christmas for the Children program was that every child whose application was submitted received gifts.
Other than that, the pandemic pretty much threw a monkey wrench into all 34 Christmas parties that were scheduled throughout Hawkins County in December.
This year the program served 1,300 children, which equals its previous record.
Christmas for the Children provides each child wrapped gifts to be opened Christmas morning, as well as parties with a meal and a backpack filled with gifts to be enjoyed the day of the party.
Program director Jennifer Kinsler said it was harder to meet the demand this year because several churches had to “adopt” fewer children due to budget constraints.
She had nearly 500 “leftover” children who were served thanks to last- minute contributions. Kinsler personally shopped for more than 200 of those children.
“With a global pandemic this year we wanted to continue serving families by providing Christmas gifts to needy children in Hawkins and Hancock counties while also practicing safety measures,” Kinsler said. “We had to change the way we ensure children get their gifts. We did this by inviting them to a drive-thru instead of one of our normal Christmas parties. They simply stayed inside their cars while we had mission teams and/or volunteers loading gifts. We held approximately 34 drive-thrus at various locations throughout Hawkins County.”
Overall there were 410 families served totaling right at 1,300 children.
The overall value of the program this year was reported at $168,720, including $134,000 for gifts, $16,625 for to-go meals and $3,600 for entertainment. The value of man-hours contributed to the program this year was reported at $14,262.
“For the first time this year, we had to modify the way we normally do Christmas,” said Of One Accord Director Sheldon Livesay. “We normally brought people inside the church, but none allowed us to do that this year. We normally fed the families a complete meal. This year they were either carry-out meals or pizzas to go. We normally had a Christ-centered program. This year they missed this important element. Gifts were then given to take home. We were able to provide the gifts and load them.”
Livesay added, “But we had a great Christmas, and I want to thank every sponsor, every wrapper, every volunteer, every church family and every mission team that made it up this way. Thank you, thank you.”